Monday, May 5, 2014

"Kinsela Constantly Insulted Me, Interrupted Me and Broke His Agreement."

Jan Helfeld on his debates with Stephan Kinsella and Stefan Molyneux:
Kinsela constantly insulted me, interrupted me and  broke his agreement on the structure of the debate and the rules. Is this typical of anarchists? Stephan Molineaux also welched on his agreement of the debate structure.
Anyone who has seen Helfeld interviewing others knows that he frames his questions very carefully and is generally a pretty solid debater. Here's what happened when he went up against Kinsella.

I didn't listen to the entire thing, but I landed at the 36 minute mark and went until the 41:30 spot. Do the same. I see Helfeld's point. I have no idea what is on the rest of the tape.

NOTE: I tend to side with Kinsella's position, but...


  1. It's actually instructive to watch just a bit past the 41:30 spot. Once they work out the format issue, Helfeld asks a fair question about the limits of the NAP -- i.e. would you violate the NAP to save your own life (in this question, steal water to survive when the owner wouldn't sell you water). It was a fair question that illuminates some of the boundary conditions of the NAP. Kinsella just called "bullshit" on it, but IMHO, that kind of dismissal works against us.

    1. What is really sad is Kinsella's ad hominems, it's just pathetic. Just after the 41:30 mark you pointed out Kinsella calls him a "washed up lawyer" too....

      I can't watch the whole thing right now, but what I've seen is really embarrassing for Kinsella and I hope that Helfeld doesn't consider all ancaps to be in the vein of Kinsella.(I haven't watched any part of the Molyneaux portion)

    2. The answer in most cases is yes, I'd steal to survive. That doesn't mean I should not be punished by law for doing so or that the person who I am transgressing can't defend himself or his property against me.

      Still, government isn't required to enforce law. As Hoppe said, you can call it government if you want to.

    3. "That doesn't mean I should not be punished by law for doing so or that the person who I am transgressing can't defend himself or his property against me."

      Excellent point. Reminds me of this:

      Prov. 6:30-31

      "30 Men do not despise a thief if he steals To satisfy himself when he is hungry;
      31 But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house."

      Kinsella's opponent asked a good question, and that was not the Kinsella of the Kinsella/Wenzel IP debate, unfortunately.

      (Let me quickly add that Wenzel and Kinsella are fine Austrians, and that I like what they both have to offer.)

      I also haven't watched the entire debate.

  2. Kinsella is such an obnoxious jerk! And he gave a guy with an accent a hard time about his pronunciation of "ad hominem". Really did yourself proud there, Stephan!

    1. If I seem to remember correctly, Jan is from Puerto Rico and English a second language to him...

      Anyone with foreign friends living stateside knows that you have to cut them some slack, even further, my wife is fluent in Spanish and I'm mediocre, so when I spent a month down in South America I quickly learned how difficult it is to communicate effectively and not look downright stupid at times when you are using a second language.

      It's a humbling experience, one I'm sure Kinsella could use.

      Every evening I had headaches from all the mental effort required to communicate for a month.

  3. I am an anarcho-capitalist myself, but this "bias" doesn't affect my judgment on Mr. Kinsella.

    The guy has always been like that. He's very rude, and just vulgar. Gosh, have you been on his "libertarian forum" e-mail group? I can't stand how he acts in debate. Really, he needs to grow up and be a gentleman.

    Mr. Kinsella is also an over-rated libertarian theoretician, along with Mr. Molyneux.

    Although the Mises Institute took down the interview off their website, David Gordon has mentioned that Kinsella almost always gets something wrong when talking or writing about political philosophy. He's not as bright of a thinker as he likes to think. (Oh yes, I've heard him say more than once in debate that he knows calculus. Wow! How amazing----he must be a genius!)

    Jan Helfeld raised a perfectly fine and perfectly legitimate question. Good grief, this elementary question can be found among many prominent philosophers. Has Kinsella heard of, e.g., Thomas Aquinas? Of course he has. Does he know that Helfeld's (basic) point has been raised by many likewise thinkers of a genius that neither Helfeld nor Kinsella have? It's a question to think about and answer. All that Kinsella can do is call names, and act like his true self when things get intellectually and/or morally challenging.

  4. Just one more thing to add to my last (above) post: Kinsella went so far to call Helfeld a "looser." That's how low this guy Kinsella is.

  5. What is the answer to Jan's questions? Does survival and duress trump NAP?

    1. I'd say that it doesn't. If it does, then you are arguing for example that it would also be acceptable to take someone else's money to get a cancer operation you might need but can't afford.

      That core principle if allowed, justifies taking anyone's property on that basis.

      I'd say you are posing the question in a manner that assumes it's either one or the other.

      For example, if you are dying from thirst but take water out of someone's privately owned well, you do so under the risk they might shoot you. You've violated the NAP but might consider the risk in doing so far less than dying from thirst.

      In the above scenario you must accept that you are stealing and there could be a punishment for that. You acknowledge that it might be wrong, but want to live and take the risk, and maybe they'll be restitution to pay(which is still better than dying).

      Of course, the whole scenario is somewhat outlandish(cue up Lawrence of Arabia! LMAO!), but I'd say most people try to live up to their principles but still fail.

      That failure or their inability to maintain their consistency(due to their mortal nature) still doesn't invalidate the principle.

      In other words, we can say, "Yea, I stole the was stealing, it's a NAP violation..but I wanted to live!"

      So you acknowledge the violation of the NAP and all parties deal with it in an imperfect world. From a utilitarian perspective, outside of Lawrence of Arabia, I don't think you see many well owners shooting the violator.

    2. It probably does for you at the time. It would be classified as self defense. If you were caught, or you turned yourself into some libertarian adjudication system, then the punishment/reparations would have to be determined. However, I suspect the circumstances would be taken into account.

      Most sane people would violate the NAP in the question's proposed manner if their survival depended upon it. The question gets more complex if your survival would mean the severe injury or death of another person -- especially if you were able to determine the probable outcome a priori. It's also more complex if the external danger you cause to others is to save a loved one's life. Many people would do things to save a loved one that they might not do to save themselves.

      In the real world, there is no perfect answer to every situation. Boundary conditions will always exist. The trick is not falling into the trap of organizing a philosophy around all the improbable boundary conditions. That may have been what Kinsela was trying to avoid, but his avoidance was worse than the answer, IMHO.

    3. @Anon 3:35: No, it doesn't. See Anon 2:17 above. If the cruel bastard won't share his water, he will have no problem shooting you when you attempt to steal it. Besides, you don't need to steal to survive. Panhandling is more effective. I personally know 2 people who have sent money to complete strangers in response to Craig's List ads that requested assistance.

    4. No. But in "life boat" situations, it is everyone for himself (as the elephant said as he danced among the chickadees). It is only the gentlemen and heroic who choose to do the right thing.

    5. PLEASE UNDERSTAND - Being a proponent of the NAP does not mean that you agree to not violate the NAP ! It means that you agree to the consequences of violating it.

      There may be times where you choose to violate it and therefore you have to compensate the person whom you harmed for the losses you caused them.

    6. Freedom Mom hit the nail on the head.

  6. I realized something watching this debate and Jan's debate with Molyneux, found here Jan talks about Kinsella not abiding by the "rules" of the debate, but in the Molyneux debate he didn't mind violating the debate rules himself. I suppose Jan thinks it's okay for him to violate debate rules, but if someone like Kinsella does then now it's a problem.

    Also, Jan's ducking and dodging of Kinsella's initial questions came off as rude. Lastly, Jan can ask for a reasonable debate with Kinsella, yet Kinsella cannot decide to not be taxed. Essentially Jan wants to "agree to disagree" on the debate, but Kinsella cannot agree to disagree with Jan on taxes or the state. Because if Kinsella does not pay the taxes that Jan supports, Jan approves of government agents (IRS) to rob Kinsella of his money.

    1. Okay Stevens, you tried but you just can't salvage Kinsella's terrible, incompetent, rude, vulgar, shameful, pathetic, ignorant, foolish, embarrassingly childish, performance.

    2. Hi Anonymous, I don't think that Kinsella was the best person to have a civilized debate with Jen. I think the perspective Kinsella said he came from was that Jen would have him locked up for not agreeing with him (i.e. police, IRS, etc.), which is far worse than how Kinsella was acting; childish, rude, etc.

      Honestly, if it was me I probably wouldn't have accepted the debate with Jen. To have a debate with someone who agrees with the initiation of force (taxation, jurisdiction) is like debating with a rapist on the ethics of sex. I think I have figured out the solution...don't debated statists! What's the point? How often can you win a debate and change someone's mind? Very rarely I've discovered.

      If Jen agrees with a limited government, but not rape, murder, and private theft then he is logically inconsistent. Then the defensive walls come up. Frustrating and boring.

    3. Okay Mr. Stevens, I agree with you to a point. It is hard to debate a statist. However, if Mr Kinsella wasn't such a "washed up lawyer" he could have least explained exceptions to the NAP as well as "Freedom Mom" above.
      Restitution to the victim of your aggression would have been a much better answer than "fuck you."

    4. @Stevens

      "If Jen agrees with....."

      You are assuming all your conclusions, to which minarchists (and outright statists) do not agree.

      Even Mises doesn't equate a defense of the night-watchman state with a defense of the welfare state.

      You have assumed what "initiation of force" means.
      You have assumed what property means.
      You have assumed what government is.
      You have assumed the meanings of rape, murder, and theft.
      You have assumed the meanings of private and public.

      Every one of these things is defined differently and given different values by different ideologues at different moments of their articulation of their ideologies.

      Until you are able to convince everyone that your definitions are the only correct ones, you have not proved anyone else's logical inconsistency, only your inability to give your opponent his due.

      In addition, defining these terms outside history and particular contexts has limited value.
      One government is not the same as another. One society is not the same as the other. One age is not the same as the other.

    5. Hi Lila, thank you for the response. I did a quick Google word search for "assume" and 3 different sources essentially said assume is to think something is true without knowing it's true (here is the link ). Now, I know what the initiation of force, property, government, rape, murder, theft, private and public means by using reason and evidence.

      Therefore no assumption is being used. In fact, if I did not study and reflect on these truths so diligently, I would not state them as though they were a matter-of-fact. What is the difference between rape and love-making. Rape is the initiation of force applied to sex. If it was voluntary it would just be hardcore sex or something similar. Love-making is voluntary sexual action. If we leave out the initiation of force that occurs in rape, then rape and love-making would be no different.

      Lastly, because I don't want to bore you to death, profit revenue is acquired through voluntary means. Taxation revenue is not "government profit." Why? Because tax reveune is not voluntarily paid to governments, tax revenue is compulsory (Google search tax definition). Compulsion is not voluntary. Therefore, government revenue acquired though compulsion is not called "profit." It's called taxation. Similarly, revenue generated through peaceful means in the private sector is not called tax revenue, it's called profits.

      Could you imagine the lunacy of this headline,"McDonald's generated $5 million in tax revenue this quarter." That would be silly.

  7. Kinsella has been a name caller and a repugnant jerk for many years. What do you expect from a lawyer who has excelled in getting government employees (judges) to apply coercion to his adversaries.

  8. Here are Kinsella's comments on his website about the dialogue. They merit no farther comment:

    "Daniel Rothschild arranged for and moderated a debate between me and Objectivist/classical liberal (or whatever he is) Jan Helfeld.

    I lost my temper with the guy because I refused to let him do what I’ve seen him do to others—take the moral highground (which, as someone defending the state against me, a real libertarian, I was not going to let him do) and use his boring/bludgeoning “socratic” debate technique to try to boringly wear people down. I refused to give in to either, which resulted in the funny mess that you can see here.

    Of course, Helfeld never seriously tried to justify aggression or the state. He read from a prepared script, like a parakeet.

    And one of his arguments hinted at the idea that the state does commit aggression but that it is worth it because it prevents more serious aggression that would occur under a condition of anarchy; though he never made this argument explicitly.

    The other one suggested by him is that if Stephan Kinsella might in some conceivable emergency commit trespass to steal food, that means that aggression is not objectionable as a general matter, i.e. the state is justified in stealing $3trillion a year from US taxpayers because a starving Stephan Kinsella could conceivably be willing to break into a cabin in the woods to steal a can of beans.

    Again, Helfeld does not want to make this argument so explicitly because then it would rightly subject him to ridicule.

    1. I meant further, not farther

    2. LOL @ further/farther.

      Farther vs. Further

      Fun fact, though: While "farther relates to distance", so does "extend" ...

  9. Wow! You should keep this video as an example how Kinsella embarrasses himself in public. This should be required viewing at the Mises Institute. How not to debate someone if you think you are a libertarian. Kinsella was just awful. Even more than usual.

  10. Kinsella once told me that Jeff Tucker was his best friend. After this "debate", even Tucker might have to re-evaluate his priorities.


  12. I entered into a "debate" several years ago with both Jeffrey Tucker and Kinsella on the blog. My argument, which I repeated here in brief, is that ultimately the market determines whether IP exists or not, but that's not the purpose of this post.

    Kinsella revealed himself then to be an egotistical, humorless jerk and I see that nothing has changed. I am amazed that anyone pays him any attention at all.

  13. Lila RajivaMay 5, 2014 at 8:52 PM
    I meant further, not farther
    Indeed, let it be further, the hallowed name of the merry prankster's bus, whose bones are resting in the shadow of Mt. Pleasant, Oregon.

  14. I'm waiting to see Sheldon Richman lose his temper next. Holding too many contradictory thoughts in one's head at a time can make tempers explode... especially when the contradictions are pointed out in public.

    That said, it is quite likely that Mr. Richman might actually be spared the terrible fate of Kinsella, since Mr. Richman *appears* to be a humble person most of the time, so there is a good chance he can still see the truth and not take it as a personal threat to his very being. At least I hope so. After losing FEE to arrogant stupidity, it would be a tragedy to lose FFF as well.

    This whole episode suggests why humor and art are necessary for proper human development. Good food and wine does not hurt either - it's so much easier to be in good spirits that way, and to open oneself to learning !

  15. I would pay money to see Jan try to take on Jeff Berwick. Berwick is the most cohesive anarchist proponent out there right now

  16. @Anon at 11.21

    Ha, yes. Where would I be without my talking rabbit, scrumptious goat curries, rambunctious non-PC friends, pretty gardens and flowers, cartoons, and yeah, the green stuff doesn't hurt, although it's not all that it's cracked up to be.

    Living happily is the best revenge. They can keep their labels.

    I will paste them on my compost bins... where they belong.

  17. Very entertaining exchange! I love that Helfeld guy! So meticulous, so cool under fire, despite his minor shortcomings. Before he ever spoke, he had Kinsella all shaken up to the point of seething hatred! Wow!

    Kinsella: "Fuck the format!" ("We'll do it live!")


  18. Now that's funny! Great comparison...O'Reilly and Kinsella...two hot heads who think they know it all.

  19. Kinsella is a gleeful troll and I've seen him do stuff like this elsewhere. Sales 101, no one will buy anything if they don't like you. Also, if you agree to the rules of a debate at least try to hew to them. There are so many levels of abject and unneccessary rudeness here. I would have left and told the Stephans to grow up.

  20. I found the most interesting part to be right at the end, when the moderator asked Kinsella if he had ever been in favor of taxation and Kinsella replied with an assertive "No! Never!". I find it hard to believe that this is true: has anyone ever met an anarcho-capitalist ten-year-old? Is Kinsella self-deluded enough to believe that he was born a John Galt?